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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

The historical rise and fall of biofuels

Ethanol


Having written a dozen blogs on ethanol, my record on the issue is clear. Too many question marks along with the dramatic impact on the world food supply make me more than skeptical about the value of ethanol. My constituents have also informed me of their strong opposition.

In America, members of Congress and the food industry are calling for an end to ethanol mandates. The nationwide corn-based ethanol mandate requires blending 9 billion gallons of ethanol into America’s fuel supply this year. Midwest flooding during June devastated several million acres of corn and soybeans fields, pushing the price of corn to record highs that have, in turn, severely hurt livestock producers.

The British also understand the ramifications of the ethanol craze. Christopher Booker and Richard North recently published Scared To Death: From BSE to Global Warming, How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth. They have written a column in the Daily Telegraph, chronicling the historical rise and speedy fall of biofuels.

Booker and North write, “Rarely in political history can there have been such a rapid and dramatic reversal of a received wisdom as we have seen in the past 18 months over biofuels.” Prior to the change in heart over biofuels, Booker and North document what they call “mankind’s love affair with biofuels,” a process that developed in five stages going back decades.

Stage One-The internal combustion engine is born. Henry Ford wanted his autos to run on ethanol made from corn and hemp. The petroleum business boomed during the 1920’s, and ethanol got placed on the back burner.

Stage Two- During the 1970’s, skyrocketing oil prices put the focus back on biofuels. The United Nations, after holding a conference on the issue in 1981 adopted a program in 1987 emphasizing biofuels.

Stage Three- Two key developments occurred during the 1990’s: 1) After the first Gulf War, the United States, staring at a spike in oil prices, viewed surplus crops as the answer to dependence on foreign oil, and 2) The United Nations considered biofuels a solution to global warming.

Stage Four- Between 2004 and 2007, hysteria over global warming grew. In an attempt to show leadership on global warming, the European Union (EU) set a required target of 10 percent of all EU transport fuel to come from biofuels by 2020. A United Nations report during 2006 indicated that in order to meet the EU goal of 10 percent, 70 per cent of dry land would have to be taken out of food production. Despite the UN report, the EU today refuses to alter its 10 percent target.

Stage Five- The ethanol backlash exploded, coming from some unpredictable sources. Environmental groups, once chief biofuel proponents, now had serious doubts, spurred by the effects in the Third World and rainforests. Worldwide food shortages had critics pointing the finger squarely at the biofuel craze.

Booker and North quote a United Nations official who says biofuels can only
bring "more hunger to the poor people of the world, "and that biofuels are a "crime against humanity".

The world needs to get over its ethanol hangover and dramatically cut back on ramming food into fuel tanks. Here is Booker and North’s column in the Daily Telegraph.

Tax relief still available for flood victims

News you can use

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Flood victims, there is still time to apply for disaster unemployment

News you can use

Deadlines are fast approaching to file for disaster unemployment assistance in Wisconsin. If you were unable to work because of the severe flooding last month, you can apply for assistance, but time is running out.

Here are the deadlines for counties I represent in state Senate District 28:

Waukesha County: July 19, 2008

Walworth County: July 25, 2008

Here is more information in a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
.

From now until the end of the year, every dollar you earn is your own

Taxes


The news media gives little attention to Tax Freedom Day, the day the average American has earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. It reports even less on the Cost of Government Day.

Cost of Government Day is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by all levels of government, federal, state and local. According to the Americans for Tax Reform, Cost of Government Day is far worse than Tax Freedom Day.

This year, the national Cost of Government Day fell on July 16. Wisconsin’s Cost of Government Day, the 37th latest in the country, is today. July 17.

Americans for Tax Reform in its 2008 report on Cost of Government Day (COGD) writes:

“Working people must toil on average 197 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In other words, the cost of government consumes 53.9 percent of national income.

Cost of Government Day falls four days later in 2008 than last year’s revised date of July 12. In 2008, the average American will have to work an additional 17 days out of the year to pay off his or her cost of government compared to 2000, when the COGD was June 29.

In fact, since 1977, COGD has fallen later than July 16 in only four of those 32 years -in 1982 and 1983, and in 1992 and 1993. The driving factor for this development is the fact that all components of the cost of government – federal spending, state and local spending, and regulation – are now increasing faster than national income.

This increase in the cost of government stands in sharp contrast to at least two periods in the past thirty years: COGD fell sharply from a high of July 20 in 1992 to June 29 in 1999 and 2000. In addition, COGD declined from a record high of July 23 in 1982 to July 3 in 1989. Both of these declines resulted from a combination of restraining the growth of federal spending while the economy was booming and rapidly increasing national income.”

The key is taxing and spending. The burden on taxpayers is reduced when restraints are placed on spending. In Wisconsin, taxing and spending levels remain too high, meaning Wisconsin taxpayers have to work over half a year just to earn enough income to pay off their commitments to all levels of government.

You can read more about the Cost of Government and Cost of Government Day here. 

I have signed a pledge issued by Americans for Tax Reform that I oppose tax increases.

Cost of Government Day is finally here. Its arrival is little reason to celebrate.

Democrats fail to shoot down photo ID in Georgia

Photo ID


Voters in Georgia go to the polls today to choose candidates in primaries for Congress, the General Assembly and other state and local offices. Before they can vote, Georgians must provide a Georgia driver's license, a valid government-issued photo ID,  a U.S. passport,  a military photo ID,  a valid picture ID showing membership in a native American tribe, or a photo ID issued by a county registrar.

Last Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell tossed out a challenge against the photo ID requirement. Georgia’s state Democrat Party was seeking a temporary restraining order to block the use of photo ID in today’s Georgia primaries.

During a hearing last week, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel testified there would be "mass chaos" at Georgia’s 3,000 precincts if the judge were to grant the Democrat party's request. In a statement following the judge’s ruling, Handel said, "Photo ID has been implemented without incident in eight elections, including the presidential preference primary that featured record voter turnout."

Georgia has also taken a step that I proposed with legislation in Wisconsin that literally removes one of the key arguments of photo ID opponents. In Georgia, according to the Secretary of State’s website, “If you do not have one of these acceptable forms of photo identification, the State of Georgia offers a FREE Voter Identification Card. An identification card can be issued at any county registrar's office or Department of Driver Services office FREE of charge.”

During the 2005 legislative session, I authored Senate Bill 119 that would have issued identification cards without charge. Senate Bill 119 passed the state Senate 25-8, but did not get to the Assembly floor for a vote. Here are details on Senate Bill 119.

Democrats in Georgia pledge to continue to fight to have that state’s photo ID thrown out before the November elections. Just as here in Wisconsin, Democrats object to the common sense policy of having voters show proof that they are who they say they are. Wisconsin needs to adopt a photo ID requirement. Approving photo ID should be one of the Legislature’s top priorities when it reconvenes in January 2009.

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